7 Relationship Challenges and What To Do About Them
Relationships are challenging. At the beginning, it’s all fun and games, but relationships evolve over time. The ability to handle these challenges effectively determines how successful the relationship will ultimately be. Be prepared for the most common relationship challenges and know how to deal with them.
All relationships have challenges sooner or later:
1. The realization that your partner isn’t everything you need. Expectations are high in relationships. Before you know the other person well, it’s easy to imagine they’re everything you’d ever need from another person: a soul mate, sounding board, best friend, and perfect lover. But, with time the truth reveals itself: There is no way your partner can be everything you need. No single person can completely satisfy the needs of another. Expect to have no more than 80% of your need fulfilled by your partner. You’ll have to find the other 20% somewhere else. This might be the need to watch horror movies with someone else, have intellectual conversations, talk about shopping, or talk about sports.
2. Communication issues. Communication is like sex; sometimes one partner seems to want to do it more than the other. Set aside time each day for a few minutes to consciously connect and communicate. Practice good reflective listening skills. It may be uncomfortable while you get used to it, but that’s the price that must be paid to have a successful relationship.
3. Trust issues. Some people have difficulty trusting others. Some people are more resentful than others when they don’t receive the level of trust they think they deserve. Be trustworthy and expect the same from your partner. There are little things you can do to build trust.
Be on time.
Be open regarding your whereabouts.
4. Financial disagreements. Financial issues often lead to relationship challenges. When it comes to finances it’s easy for the feelings of stress and anxiety to be taken out on your partner...you have to blame someone, right? The solution is to form an alliance with your partner and deal with the financial challenges head-on. Otherwise, one person will deal with it alone and resentment can build.
5. Division of labor. In some cultures, there’s no disagreement. Men do certain chores and women do theirs. In the US, it’s not always so clear. Make a list of all the chores that need to be done. Divide them into three lists – daily, weekly, and monthly. Sit down together and divide up the list in a way that you’re both satisfied with. You might consider taking turns choosing chores. After a few months, you can swap.
TIP: When you assume the responsibility for a chore or task, assume 100% of the responsibility for the task. Agree, ahead of time, on standards, then handle 100% of the chore from conceptualization, to preparation, and then to execution. The idea is to remove ALL of the mental load for that task from your partner!
6. Betrayal or Cheating. Monogamy sounds great on paper, but is a little tougher in practice. Monogamy isn’t how humans are wired; it's a construct motivated by power and control and fueled by faith systems. Sex (and sexual attraction) is a biological imperative, and just because there's a ring on it doesn't mean you won't be attracted to others. If you and your partner agree to maintain a monogamous relationship, it will take focus and deeply honest communication. Be open to having real discussions with your partner about if monagamy is the right choice for both of you, and perhaps be open to alternative relationship styles that might work better for you.
7. Getting stuck in a rut. This happens when there’s too much routine and the future isn’t compelling. Set a few goals together to make the future more interesting. Plan a trip or a big purchase. Get out of the house at least once a week for dinner, a yoga class, or bowling. Make a commitment to each other that you will both work to keep the spice alive!
Avoid the belief that a good relationship is easy 100% of the time. It creates unreasonable expectations. Expect that you WILL have problems, but the game changer is how you navigate the repair after the conflict!